RV generators are a godsend when boondocking without solar power. Unfortunately, they come with a couple of drawbacks.
Most RV generators are rather loud, ranging from 48–65 dBA at a distance of 50 feet. The sound will be louder the closer you get.
There’s really no way around this without soundproofing the generator compartment or the machine itself, which can get a bit spendy.
Why Are RV Generators So Loud?
In short, they’re an engine. You’re powering an engine with gasoline, meaning there’s going to be combustion happening in the generator. You don’t expect a car engine to be silent, so don’t expect that of your generator.
How Do RV Generators Work?
The basic idea of a gas-powered generator is the same as the one in your RV and car. You put gasoline (or some similar fuel, like diesel) into the tank. In turn, the generator uses combustion to convert the energy created by the miniature explosion into electricity.
In turn, the generator sends electricity to your battery and devices, allowing you to power what you need. Now, RV generators come in two forms – those that are stored in the RV, and those meant to be packed and unpacked as needed.
What Can Cause RV Generator Noise?
There are a lot of potential causes, just like with many electronics. Generators are complex machines with a lot of moving parts, so if it’s making more noise than usual, it’s important to know how to troubleshoot.
- Mount Noise – This type of noise is caused by the parts you use to mount your generator (assuming it’s attached to your RV). Since your generator moves and vibrates as part of its regular function, this can cause wear on the parts holding it in place. Most generators are designed to dampen vibrations, but if those parts wear, it can start to shake loose.
- Fan Noise – Not all generators use fans, but those that do use them run the risk of their fans making a racket if not properly soundproofed. If you notice more sound than usual, check your generator’s fan and make sure it’s still secured and not loose.
- Engine Noise – This is pretty obvious, but it’s important to state. Engines make noise, and this rule doesn’t change for generators. If it’s gas-powered, it’s using combustion to make power – meaning those tiny explosions are going to make sound. Placing the generator over solid objects like metal can increase the noise, and sound-dampening materials like rubber will do the opposite.
- Exhaust Noise – Your generator will produce exhaust thanks to combustion. This often results in noise coming from the exhaust port – which is normal. If you hear rattling or clanging, this can be a sign of a loose exhaust vibration mount.
Can I Buy Quiet RV Generators?
Like most things in life, RV generators come in many sizes and styles. This means that if you’re looking for a quieter generator, there are options out there!
Silence On Startup
Some generators start more loudly than others. If you’re using a pull-start generator (similar to a lawnmower), they’ll generally be the loudest. Instead, you can opt for a key or remote-start generator that takes less effort and is (usually) quieter on startup.
While the type of fuel you use won’t actively increase or decrease sound made by your generator, it will affect its lifespan. Fuels like gas or diesel will age poorly and get gummy, which can cause issues of their own. Expired gas will also cause your generator to make more noise when running because it has to work harder to get its fuel.
This can be prevented by regularly running your generator, even if it’s not actively in use. You could alternatively just not put in more fuel than you’ll need.
Some Good Options
There are a lot of options out there for generators, but these are the quietest models out there:
- The Yamaha EF2400iSHC is expensive, but it comes with a 3 year warranty and is pretty darn quiet. It can also be found at Home Depot.
- The Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel isn’t quite as quiet as the Yamaha, and is slightly heavier. But it’s still a great option with a bit of flexibility on fuel. You can also find it at Lowe’s and Cabela’s.
- This guy is a bit cheaper. The Generac 7117 GP2200i runs for a long time (nearly 11 hours on one tank) and its price point is a bit less scary. You can get this at most major outdoor retailers, such as Lowe’s or Walmart.
- This guy isn’t much cheaper, but it’s a good mid-range alternative. It’s pretty darn quiet and runs at reasonable times. You can find the Briggs & Stratton 30545 Inverter Generator here or here.
Pretty much every RV generator you come across will be loud – it’s just the name of the game. On the plus side, you can purchase ones designed to minimize noise. Additionally, if your RV comes with an RV generator space (like many newer ones do) that will cut a bit of noise.
If you notice your generator making more noise than usual, check the above parts. It’s not only dangerous to run a damaged generator, but it’s really annoying to listen to. If you’re looking for a quieter alternative to generators, maybe consider installing solar panels?
Can I Soundproof My RV Generator?
Absolutely! It’s a bit of an expensive and time-consuming process, but it’s entirely worth it. Taking the time to soundproof either your generator or generator storage section will pay off in uninterrupted sleep and easy reading.
Does Fuel Type Affect RV Generator Noise?
No. Expired fuel will cause extra noise, but it’s not going to change based on what fuel you’re using. Rather, it’ll change depending on the model you choose.
Are RV Solar Panels Loud?
Not even a little bit. RV solar panels are great for many reasons, but this is my favorite among them – the lack of noise. While they’re a bit expensive to set up, they’re entirely worth it because I don’t have to listen to a generator run all night.